Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Extract, Family Drama, Noir, Suspense

The Silent Victims Alex Coombs 5*#Review @AlexHowardCrime @BoldwoodBooks #CrimeFiction #DIHanlon #TheSilentVictims #noircrime #BlogTour #BookReview #MondayBlogs @rararesources #Extract #boldwoodbloggers

DCI Hanlon faces the toughest decision of her career as a string of political murders lead to a deadly confrontation.
A controversial, right-wing German politician is due to speak at the Oxford Union. Following a series of murders linked to a violent anarchist group, the city is on high alert. DCI Hanlon has been partnered with DI Huss to ensure the speech goes smoothly and that there will be no more killing.

Meanwhile, as Hanlon traces the person behind the murders, she soon realises that the chilling truth has a terrible price. Is Hanlon willing to meet the cost?

The final gripping case for DCI Hanlon.

This book was previously published as An Incidental Death by Alex Howard.

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I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The final book in the DCI Hanlon series moves firmly into the realm of politics. Hanlon is on protection duty for a controversial foreign politician. Unsurprisingly this means danger for the enigmatic detective.

The settings are numerous and vividly brought to life. The characters are believable, and some the personification of evil. The story has many twists which make it addictive reading.

This is a topical urban thriller with a memorable detective team, a unique leader and provides a suitably exciting and poignant end to this series.

Extract from The Silent Victims – Alex Coombs

Melinda Huss was dying. She wasn’t in any pain, the local anaesthetic in her side had taken care of that, all she could feel as the blood trickled out from her right side was a faint tickling sensation as it flowed down her skin and a spreading warmth as it pooled underneath her body. 

She was lying on her back on a massage table in the spa and treatment centre of the luxury hotel’s lodge. The room was small and clinical, its only decoration three severe black and white Robert Mapplethorpe photographs of flowers, their curled foliage like organs from a human body. They had an ethereal, fleshy, beauty all of their own. 

There was a table with a laptop on it and two charts on the wall – one featuring traditional Chinese medicine meridian lines where chi was said to flow, another, brightly coloured, indeed almost the only other colour in the room, showed the main chakra positions from Indian yoga. 

The other source of colour in the room was the enormous red stain that spread out across the white sheet covering Huss’s torso. 

She was quite calm, tranquil almost, but she could feel herself becoming light-headed. She wondered how much blood she had actually lost. She felt another warm trickle down her body. It seemed to be leaving her body in irregular bursts. It wasn’t unpleasant. In fact, if you had to choose a way to die, bleeding out like this was not a bad way to go at all. 

She lifted her head and looked down at the Velcro straps that secured her arms and legs. She had tried before to break her bonds or wriggle free. She had been unsuccessful. She wasn’t going to try again. 

She could feel her will, and her strength, draining away. She thought of Enver Demirel, her fiancé. She thought of Hanlon. Her fierce, attractive face, and she thought of the long road that had led here. 

To this place. To this death. 

Kriminalkommissar Claudia Meyer of the Baden Württemberg Landeskriminalamt strode out of the foyer of the baroque building just off Karlplatz in the historic Alt centre of Heidelberg. 

It was incredibly noisy. Horns were beeping in the narrow mediaeval streets where traffic had backed up. Sirens wailed, police were shouting commands at a vociferous crowd that had gathered. 

The red sandstone castle on the hill above looked down on the small, picturesque town below. The scene that she had just witnessed in the first floor drawing room was as gruesome as any the castle had seen in its long history. There had been an eye-opening amount of blood. 

There were a couple of blue and silver VW squad cars from the cop shop on Eppelheimer Strasse parked on the narrow cobbled street outside, and the front door of the large, detached town house had been sealed off. The blue uniformed police on the door watched her as she passed. She nodded at the driver of the van that she recognized as belonging to Forensics which was pulled up on the pavement. 

The street where all this commotion was occurring was in one of Heidelberg’s most fashionable quarters. It was university land, but the house she had just left was startlingly expensive, even by Stuttgart standards. Prices had risen steeply in latter times. It was the kind of place that only fairly recently had become gentrified and was now increasingly being colonized by non-German investors. It lay in the heart of the city, near the exclusive Hauptstrasse. It wasn’t the kind of place you associated with violent death; more expensive shopping and a Kaffee and a slice of Sachertorte

Alex Coombs

Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He has written four well reviewed crime novels as Alex Howard.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Extract, Family Drama, Noir, Suspense

The Missing Husband Alex Coombs 4*#Review @AlexHowardCrime @BoldwoodBooks #CrimeFiction #DIHanlon #TheMissingHusband #noircrime #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources #Extract #boldwoodbloggers

A security officer is assassinated. 

A small child grieves for his father. 

A psychopath commits their first crime…
A frightened Russian woman seeks DCI Hanlon’s help in finding her missing husband. Hanlon’s not keen on the case. Until she hears a name she recognises only too well. Arkady Belanov, sadistic owner of an exclusive brothel in Oxford is involved.

And when DCI Enver Demirel, her former partner and friend, disappears, Hanlon is determined to solve the case.

Forced into an uneasy alliance with the London underworld, the race to him from the blood-stained hands of the Russian mafia is underway…

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I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is an edgy and exciting series. Hanlon sidelined from the vibrant Metropolitan police arena, still attracts danger and responds with gritty determination. Best read chronologically this is a memorable series.

Working in a missing persons’ unit Hanlon conflicts violently with the Russian mafia. Whilst not having the team dynamic of the first two books, it retains its contemporary focus, strong characters and suspense.

Hanlon edges closer to self destruct yet manages to be an effective investigator. I am looking forward to the final book in this series.

Extract from The Missing Husband – Alex Coombs

Claudia Liebig looked at the young boy’s picture. Serg was frowning hard in concentration as he drew. In five years of teaching Claudia had never met such an intense child. Everything Serg did was coloured with the same remorseless focus. 

Claudia had rebelled against the tenets of her art school, which was ultra-liberal, focused on the idea that theory was as important, or maybe more so, as technique. Claudia disagreed and here at the small, international private school near Alexanderplatz in central Berlin where she was the art teacher, figurative work featured highly. By all means, she said, be abstract, but before you do me a series of coloured rectangles or Cubist faces, or before you display an everyday object as art, show me you can paint like Mondrian, Picasso or Duchamp could. 

Today her pupils were drawing their parents at work. Desks and rudimentary offices were the main themes – most of the parents worked in offices and some of the children’s parents were in TV, so there was a smattering of cameras and monitors depicted in the paintings. 

Serg was drawing some tanks; they looked scarily real. She admired them. 

‘T-80s,’ said Serg. He spoke flawless German even though Russian was his mother tongue.

He had an amazing vocabulary too, thought Claudia. Teachers shouldn’t have favourites, but they do. Serg was hers. Despite being Russian. Not a popular thing to be in Nineties Berlin. 

‘That’s nice,’ said Claudia. Serg bowed his head over his painting, colouring in the tanks battleship-grey. ‘Are they good tanks?’ Serg lifted his head and looked steadily at her with his startlingly green eyes. He was a child of almost unearthly beauty, thought Claudia, like his mother. 

‘My father says that remains to be seen.’ 

‘Is that your father in the tank?’ Claudia pointed to the picture. 

Serg shook his head and indicated a figure in a jeep. It was astonishingly well drawn. Claudia had met Serg’s dad once, rumoured to be head of the FSB, the former KGB, at the Russian Berlin embassy, the Stalinist-style palace in the Unter den Linden, in the heart of the city. She could recognize his powerful bull-like neck and physique, the angry energy that the hunched figure seemed to radiate. 

‘That’s him,’ Serg said. 

Alex Coombs

Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He has written four well reviewed crime novels as Alex Howard.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Noir, Suspense

The Innocent Girl Alex Coombs 5*#Review @AlexHowardCrime @BoldwoodBooks #CrimeFiction #DIHanlon #London #Oxford #TheInnocentGirl #noircrime #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources #Extract #boldwoodbloggers

DCI Hanlon is going undercover.


Oxford Philosophy lecturer Dr Gideon Fuller is in the frame, but Hanlon is not convinced.

From the specialist brothels in Oxford and Soho, to the inner sanctum of a Russian people trafficker with a taste for hurting women, the trail leads Hanlon deeper and deeper into danger – until she herself becomes the killer’s next target…

Can Hanlon track down the killer before it’s too late?

This book was previously published as Cold Revenge by Alex Howard.

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I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The second book in the Hanlon series has her going undercover after the murder of a university student. There are many strands to this plot, all of which interweave as the story progresses. The story is atmospheric and full of locational detail so the reader can visualise the setting.

Hanlon now an acting DCI works with Demeril in a world of trafficking and abuse. The themes are noir crime and disturbing. The characters are well defined, yet the lines of good and evil are often blurred.

Hanlon continues to be driven and unrepentant. Her feelings about her friend Whiteside lying in a coma shows her vulnerability. The believable team dynamics are why this series works so well.

This is an addictive edition of this absorbing series.

Alex Coombs

Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He has written four well reviewed crime novels as Alex Howard.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Excerpt, Extract, Family Drama, Noir, Suspense

The Stolen Child Alex Coombs 5*#Review @AlexHowardCrime @BoldwoodBooks #CrimeFiction #DIHanlon #London #Essex #TheStolenChild #noircrime #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources #Extract #boldwoodbloggers

Meet DI Hanlon. A woman with a habit of breaking the rules and a fierce loyalty to the few people she respects.


Her boss, Corrigan. Looks like a street copper promoted above his ability. Underestimate him at your peril.

Enver Demirel. Known in the boxing ring as Iron Hand. Now soft and gone to seed. But he would do anything for Hanlon.

When the kidnap of a 12-year-old boy blows the case of some missing children wide apart, the finger is pointing at the heart of the Met.

Corrigan sends in the only cop in his team who is incorruptible enough to handle it – Hanlon.

And then he sends Demirel to spy on her…

Once you start the DI Hanlon series, you won’t be able to put it down.

This book was previously published as Time To Die by Alex Howard.

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I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I’ve read a couple of this author’s later books featuring this character, and it’s interesting to explore her past career as a Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police. DI Hanlon is dedicated, effective and uncontrollable. If you were a crime victim, you would want her as your Senior Investigating officer.

Set in the second decade of the twenty-first century the story’s subject matter is contemporary and disturbing, parts are harrowing to read but integral to moving the story forward and showing Hanlon’s motivations. Hanlon is an advocate of justice rather than an upholder of the law and easy to empathise. Several investigations are running concurrently in this character-driven story. It focuses on Hanlon and how she is affected by the cases and her subsequent involvement.

The ending is fast-paced, gritty and ultimately satisfying.

Extract from The Stolen Child – Alex Coombs

The compact, concrete shape of the World War Two gun emplacement crouched, hunkered down into the shallow, gravelly soil above the beach on the Essex side of the Thames Estuary near Southend. It overlooked the wide, grey shallow waters on whose far side lay the Isle of Grain and Sheerness. Hanlon guessed it was somewhere out there in those cold, steely waters that the proposed island airport for London might one day take shape. She thought, fleetingly, it would be a pity in a way if it happened. The North Sea waters had a chilly quality that she found rather beautiful. She looked around her slowly, the sky above enormous after London’s claustrophobic horizons. A heron stood on a boulder near the beach, shrugging its wings like an old lady arranging a shawl around her shoulders. Cormorants bobbed along on top of the water and she could see guillemots, their wings folded back like dive-bombers, thundering into the water. The calls of the birds floated towards her on the stiff sea breeze.      

     The tarmac track that led down from the main road above them was old, cracked and weed-grown. The ex-army building’s pitted, grey, artificial stone surface was now camouflaged with yellow, cream and blue-grey lichens and grey-green moss, so that it seemed almost organic, a part of the landscape like a strangely symmetric rock formation. There was a fissured, concrete apron next to the bunker and Hanlon pulled up adjacent to the large, white Mercedes van that she guessed belonged to the forensics team, then got out of her car. She stood for a moment by her Audi and closed her eyes. She felt the cold, fresh sea air against her skin and the breeze tugged at her shoulder-length dark hair. She could smell the metallic warmth of her car engine and the salt tang of the sea. The sound of the small waves breaking on the stony beach a hundred metres or so away were nearly drowned out by the throbbing of the generator next to the Mercedes. She could hear the keening of seagulls, much louder now, wheeling above in the sky. Hanlon stretched the powerful, sinewy muscles in her shoulders and arms and opened her eyes, which were as expressionless as the North Sea in front of her. She looked out over the water, feeling its call. Hanlon loved swimming in the open sea. Earlier that morning, at 6 a.m., she had swum for a steady hour in her local swimming pool, but pool swimming was nothing compared to real salt water. She guessed at this time of year the temperature would be only two or three degrees, colder than a fridge. That wouldn’t deter her. 

     She could taste its saltiness, carried to her lips by the wind.

     A red power cable looped its way from the generator through the heavy, open metal door of the bunker. The door was rusted and pitted by time and the elements, but still substantial. Hanlon stepped over the line of police crime-scene tape that secured the area, blowing like bunting in the sea breeze, and approached the building. Earlier that day, the place would have been bustling with her colleagues from Essex. Now the uniforms had gone and the outside of the bunker, included in the search area, reopened. She didn’t go inside through the forbidding-looking portal designed, she guessed, to be blast-proof, but walked instead along the side wall until she came to one of its long, slit windows that overlooked the beach and the far horizon.

Alex Coombs

Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He has written four well reviewed crime novels as Alex Howard.

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